The national food standards body are assessing an application from Greek led Australian cell-based meat company Vow, to market cultured meat in Australia.
This would see Australia join the United States and Singapore as the only countries thus far to allow lab-grown meat, with both nations having approvals to sell lab-grown or cell-cultivated chicken.
Cultured meat begins with the cells of a living animal, a fertilised egg or a bank of stored cells. These cells are then grown in steel tanks and fed nutrients that animals would otherwise eat.
The meat is different to plant-based as it still comes from an animal. This allows people to make meat without the waste.
It is expected that the standards body will consult on the application in August and a decision will be made by March, GM of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) risk management and intelligence Glen Neal told ABC.
Vow founder and CE George Peppou says the process by the FSANZ has been very diligent.
“They require an enormous amount of data, they ask questions about everything, there is an enormously complex food safety plan that we put together that they go through in really rigorous detail,” he told ABC.
Peppou and Vow aim to create foods that do not replicate standard meat but rather introduce an alternative, so people can enjoy both.
“I’m a Greek boy, so my family’s love language is various forms of lamb,” he said.
“I and my family would be very happy to incorporate (cultured meat) into our diets as an additional, new choice that offers things that traditional meat can’t.”
In an article for SmartCompany he wrote that “cultured meat should not be seen as a competitor to farming, but rather, as a perfect complement”.
Vow present more extravagant products, with cultured quail and foie gras – a French delicacy traditionally made with duck or goose liver.
They have also investigated the potential of lab-grown meat from more than 50 species of animals including alpaca, buffalo, crocodile, kangaroo, peacocks and different types of fish.
Extinct animals aren’t off the table either, with the company making headlines earlier this year when they unveiled a woolly mammoth meatball at the Nemo Museum in Amsterdam.
Another Australian company, Magic Valley, are planning to apply for cultured pork and lamb mincemeat to hit the market.
This will see them produce cell-grown burgers that will likely initially sell for $5 to $6 a piece, but eventually drop to $1 when production scales up.
Nutritional value and safety are the biggest concern with this new process, and Magic Valley are focusing on that.
With the technology growing, so are its detractors. Italy have banned the production and sale of cultured meat.
As the population continues to grow, and is expected to hit nine billion by 2050, the demand on agriculture increases exponentially.
Government agencies believe the current standard can only produce enough food for eight billion people, and to meet the demand, it will need to increase production by 73 percent.
To meet up with demand, other processes like cultivated and plant-based meat may be what the world needs.
Peppou hopes Vow and Australia can play a significant part in helping this potential issue.
“Together, we can sustainably magnify the output of Australian meat to the world 10–100x.”
“It’s my hope that Australia can become world-leading in both regenerative agriculture and cellular agriculture, exporting the finest foods to the world regardless of how they are made.”